The Philippines: Senate unlikely to give nod to RCEP

  • THE SENATE appears unlikely to give its concurrence to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement even when the session resumes after the May elections, as lawmakers question the lack of support from Malacañang.
  • “The RCEP will be difficult to pass if the Executive branch doesn’t show full support for it,” Senator Aquilino Martin L. Pimentel III, who heads the Foreign Affairs Committee, told BusinessWorld.
  • Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, who is running for vice-president in the upcoming elections, earlier said that if the decision was based on previous deliberations, the RCEP would likely be rejected by the Senate.
  • The Senate failed to give its concurrence to the RCEP deal before it adjourned the session on 3 Feb 22 for the election break. President Rodrigo R. Duterte ratified the RCEP on 2 Sep 21.
  • Mr. Sotto had pointed out that the Senate only has six days to discuss the RCEP when it resumes session on 23 May 22. Congress is scheduled to adjourn sine die on 3 Jun 22.
  • “6 days for something that requires a lot of explanation, it’s unlikely,” he said in Filipino. If the current Senate fails to act on the RCEP, the President can resubmit it to the Senate when the 19th Congress opens in Jul 22.
  • Mr. Pimentel said he and other senators agreed with Mr. Sotto’s sentiment, saying that they need more convincing that the country needs RCEP.
  • “But it should not only be the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations who should do the convincing. The branch of the government which negotiated this deal and which referred it to the Senate for concurrence should also do its share of convincing the senators,” he said.

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